IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Contractibility and the Design of Research Agreements

  • Josh Lerner
  • Ulrike Malmendier

We analyze how contractibility affects contract design. A major concern when designing research agreements is that researchers use their funding to subsidize other projects. We show that, when research activities are not contractible, an option contract is optimal. The financing firm obtains the option to terminate the agreement and, in case of termination, broad property rights. The threat of termination deters researchers from cross-subsidization, and the cost of exercising the termination option deters the financing firm from opportunistic termination. We test this prediction using 580 biotechnology research agreements. Contracts with termination options are more common when research is non-contractible. (JEL D86, L65, O31, O34)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 214-46

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:214-46
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.214
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Zilibotti, Fabrizio & Griffith, Rachel & Aghion, Philippe & Acemoglu, Daron, 2010. "Vertical Integration and Technology: Theory and Evidence," Scholarly Articles 4554219, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2004. "Characteristics, Contracts, and Actions: Evidence from Venture Capitalist Analyses," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(5), pages 2177-2210, October.
  4. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," CRSP working papers 513, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  5. Pierre André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory: A Survey of Some Recent Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 738, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2003. "Are Faculty Critical? Their Role in University-Industry Licensing," NBER Working Papers 9991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Nöldeke, Georg & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1997. "Sequential Investments and Options to Own," CEPR Discussion Papers 1645, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  9. Georg Noldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1995. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation: A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 163-179, Summer.
  10. Carter, Richard B & Manaster, Steven, 1990. " Initial Public Offerings and Underwriter Reputation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1045-67, September.
  11. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209.
  12. Monteverde, Kirk & Teece, David J, 1982. "Appropriable Rents and Quasi-Vertical Integration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 321-28, October.
  13. Danzon, Patricia M. & Nicholson, Sean & Pereira, Nuno Sousa, 2005. "Productivity in pharmaceutical-biotechnology R&D: the role of experience and alliances," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 317-339, March.
  14. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  15. David T. Robinson & Toby E. Stuart, 2007. "Financial Contracting in Biotech Strategic Alliances," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 559-596.
  16. Bernard Salanié, 2003. "Testing Contract Theory," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 49(3), pages 461-477.
  17. Lerner, Josh & Shane, Hilary & Tsai, Alexander, 2003. "Do equity financing cycles matter? evidence from biotechnology alliances," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 411-446, March.
  18. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  19. Schmidt, Klaus M., 2003. "Convertible Securities and Venture Capital Finance," Munich Reprints in Economics 19769, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  20. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "On the Management of Innovation," IDEI Working Papers 36, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  21. Francesca Cornelli & Oved Yosha, 2003. "Stage Financing and the Role of Convertible Securities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 1-32.
  22. Hardman Moore, John & Hart, Oliver, 1985. "Incomplete Contracts and Renegotiation," CEPR Discussion Papers 60, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Tim Lankester, 2004. "International Aid," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 5(1), pages 17-39, January.
  24. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, December.
  25. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  26. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2004. "Contractibility and Asset Ownership: On-Board Computers and Governance in U. S. Trucking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1443-1479.
  27. Iain Cockburn & Rebecca Henderson & Scott Stern, 1999. "Balancing Incentives: The Tension Between Basic and Applied Research," NBER Working Papers 6882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Stulz, ReneM., 1990. "Managerial discretion and optimal financing policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-27, July.
  29. Tim Loughran & Jay Ritter, 2004. "Why Has IPO Underpricing Changed Over Time?," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 33(3), Fall.
  30. Wouter Dessein, 2005. "Information and Control in Ventures and Alliances," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(5), pages 2513-2549, October.
  31. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
  32. George P. Baker & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2003. "Make Versus Buy in Trucking: Asset Ownership, Job Design, and Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 551-572, June.
  33. Gompers, Paul A, 1995. " Optimal Investment, Monitoring, and the Staging of Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1461-89, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Contractibility and the Design of Research Agreements (AER 2010) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:214-46. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.